Show Your Child How to Deal With Stress

Reviewed Jul 26, 2018

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Summary

Model how to:

  • Respond to rather than react to stress
  • Find control
  • Assess problems realistically

As adults, we know it’s tough to deal with stressful issues—problems with jobs, budgets, and family matters. But when we see children struggling with stressful issues, it can be heartbreaking.

For example, what if your child faced a bully at school? What if your child felt nervous about studying for a tough exam? Would you know how to help?

Other stressful issues kids face include tension with teachers, sibling rivalry, and peer pressure to fit into a certain clique.

Share general guidelines for handling stress

  • Learn to tolerate your child’s emotions. It can be distressing to see your child experience emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, etc. Avoid trying to fix the problem or to change your child’s feelings by promising a treat, a present or another enjoyable experience. Over time, as you tolerate your child’s strong emotions, he will be able to develop realistic and mature ways to deal with the adversities of life.
  • Give your child a language to discuss feelings. It’s OK to let him hear you say: “I feel a little out of control today” or “I am very stressed out.”
  • Let her observe you working through problems. Your child will benefit from seeing you as a good role model for coping with stress. Otherwise, how can she learn?

Do not work out marriage problems or intense financial pressures in front of your child. However, do let her hear you and your mate discussing an article on relationship enhancement. Do let your child help you clip coupons to make your budget stretch.

  • Teach your child to respond, not react, to stress. Responding means that we logically name the problem and figure out a plan to cope. Reacting means we stay stuck on talking about the problem—dramatizing it, until it gains power over us.

Teach your child to take control of problems

Stress arises when we feel out of control. Try to show your child the ropes for locating control. The minute we find control over a problem, we feel better about ourselves. Stress and self-esteem are interwoven. When children have high stress levels, their self-esteem can start to sag.

If your child is facing a problem, these coping measures can work:

  • Teach your child to assess a problem realistically. If he doesn’t assess a problem correctly, it will be next to impossible to find good answers. Tell your child, “We must all find ‘control buttons’ that truly match each problem.”

For example, ask your child: “Is a bully just making empty threats—or do we need to get a legal restraining order?” Or, ask, “Will your exam really be that tough? Will it be manageable if you can map out a good study plan?” 

  • Point out why it’s good to find the cause of problems. Explain to your child that most problems arise for a distinct reason. For instance, many problems develop when we lack a resource—such as time, money, tools, or information.

For example, is your child’s room messy? Would a bookcase or hooks for hanging things help? Has your child been late for school a lot? Would showering the night before help ease the morning crunch?

  • Demonstrate how all parties involved must take ownership. For instance, if your child is clashing with another child, don’t necessarily place blame on one person. Tell both children, “Let’s all get involved in working this out.” This reduces tension and gives everyone a stake in a productive outcome.
  • Show your child what she can control. If possible, help your child manage as much of a situation as possible—without any help from you, a teacher, or friends. This gives the child a sense of personal control.

“My robust 3-year-old daughter kept trying to shove my delicate 5-year-old down the stairs,” says Amy. “I told Shelby, ‘You must take control of this situation. Always allow your sister to go down the stairs first. Otherwise, she could shove you to the bottom, because she doesn’t understand the danger.’”
 
Amy says that Shelby was enormously relieved: “Shelby was proud that she could manage the situation by herself—without having to be a constant tattletale.” 

By Judi Light Hopson
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Model how to:

  • Respond to rather than react to stress
  • Find control
  • Assess problems realistically

As adults, we know it’s tough to deal with stressful issues—problems with jobs, budgets, and family matters. But when we see children struggling with stressful issues, it can be heartbreaking.

For example, what if your child faced a bully at school? What if your child felt nervous about studying for a tough exam? Would you know how to help?

Other stressful issues kids face include tension with teachers, sibling rivalry, and peer pressure to fit into a certain clique.

Share general guidelines for handling stress

  • Learn to tolerate your child’s emotions. It can be distressing to see your child experience emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, etc. Avoid trying to fix the problem or to change your child’s feelings by promising a treat, a present or another enjoyable experience. Over time, as you tolerate your child’s strong emotions, he will be able to develop realistic and mature ways to deal with the adversities of life.
  • Give your child a language to discuss feelings. It’s OK to let him hear you say: “I feel a little out of control today” or “I am very stressed out.”
  • Let her observe you working through problems. Your child will benefit from seeing you as a good role model for coping with stress. Otherwise, how can she learn?

Do not work out marriage problems or intense financial pressures in front of your child. However, do let her hear you and your mate discussing an article on relationship enhancement. Do let your child help you clip coupons to make your budget stretch.

  • Teach your child to respond, not react, to stress. Responding means that we logically name the problem and figure out a plan to cope. Reacting means we stay stuck on talking about the problem—dramatizing it, until it gains power over us.

Teach your child to take control of problems

Stress arises when we feel out of control. Try to show your child the ropes for locating control. The minute we find control over a problem, we feel better about ourselves. Stress and self-esteem are interwoven. When children have high stress levels, their self-esteem can start to sag.

If your child is facing a problem, these coping measures can work:

  • Teach your child to assess a problem realistically. If he doesn’t assess a problem correctly, it will be next to impossible to find good answers. Tell your child, “We must all find ‘control buttons’ that truly match each problem.”

For example, ask your child: “Is a bully just making empty threats—or do we need to get a legal restraining order?” Or, ask, “Will your exam really be that tough? Will it be manageable if you can map out a good study plan?” 

  • Point out why it’s good to find the cause of problems. Explain to your child that most problems arise for a distinct reason. For instance, many problems develop when we lack a resource—such as time, money, tools, or information.

For example, is your child’s room messy? Would a bookcase or hooks for hanging things help? Has your child been late for school a lot? Would showering the night before help ease the morning crunch?

  • Demonstrate how all parties involved must take ownership. For instance, if your child is clashing with another child, don’t necessarily place blame on one person. Tell both children, “Let’s all get involved in working this out.” This reduces tension and gives everyone a stake in a productive outcome.
  • Show your child what she can control. If possible, help your child manage as much of a situation as possible—without any help from you, a teacher, or friends. This gives the child a sense of personal control.

“My robust 3-year-old daughter kept trying to shove my delicate 5-year-old down the stairs,” says Amy. “I told Shelby, ‘You must take control of this situation. Always allow your sister to go down the stairs first. Otherwise, she could shove you to the bottom, because she doesn’t understand the danger.’”
 
Amy says that Shelby was enormously relieved: “Shelby was proud that she could manage the situation by herself—without having to be a constant tattletale.” 

By Judi Light Hopson
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Model how to:

  • Respond to rather than react to stress
  • Find control
  • Assess problems realistically

As adults, we know it’s tough to deal with stressful issues—problems with jobs, budgets, and family matters. But when we see children struggling with stressful issues, it can be heartbreaking.

For example, what if your child faced a bully at school? What if your child felt nervous about studying for a tough exam? Would you know how to help?

Other stressful issues kids face include tension with teachers, sibling rivalry, and peer pressure to fit into a certain clique.

Share general guidelines for handling stress

  • Learn to tolerate your child’s emotions. It can be distressing to see your child experience emotions such as sadness, anger, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, etc. Avoid trying to fix the problem or to change your child’s feelings by promising a treat, a present or another enjoyable experience. Over time, as you tolerate your child’s strong emotions, he will be able to develop realistic and mature ways to deal with the adversities of life.
  • Give your child a language to discuss feelings. It’s OK to let him hear you say: “I feel a little out of control today” or “I am very stressed out.”
  • Let her observe you working through problems. Your child will benefit from seeing you as a good role model for coping with stress. Otherwise, how can she learn?

Do not work out marriage problems or intense financial pressures in front of your child. However, do let her hear you and your mate discussing an article on relationship enhancement. Do let your child help you clip coupons to make your budget stretch.

  • Teach your child to respond, not react, to stress. Responding means that we logically name the problem and figure out a plan to cope. Reacting means we stay stuck on talking about the problem—dramatizing it, until it gains power over us.

Teach your child to take control of problems

Stress arises when we feel out of control. Try to show your child the ropes for locating control. The minute we find control over a problem, we feel better about ourselves. Stress and self-esteem are interwoven. When children have high stress levels, their self-esteem can start to sag.

If your child is facing a problem, these coping measures can work:

  • Teach your child to assess a problem realistically. If he doesn’t assess a problem correctly, it will be next to impossible to find good answers. Tell your child, “We must all find ‘control buttons’ that truly match each problem.”

For example, ask your child: “Is a bully just making empty threats—or do we need to get a legal restraining order?” Or, ask, “Will your exam really be that tough? Will it be manageable if you can map out a good study plan?” 

  • Point out why it’s good to find the cause of problems. Explain to your child that most problems arise for a distinct reason. For instance, many problems develop when we lack a resource—such as time, money, tools, or information.

For example, is your child’s room messy? Would a bookcase or hooks for hanging things help? Has your child been late for school a lot? Would showering the night before help ease the morning crunch?

  • Demonstrate how all parties involved must take ownership. For instance, if your child is clashing with another child, don’t necessarily place blame on one person. Tell both children, “Let’s all get involved in working this out.” This reduces tension and gives everyone a stake in a productive outcome.
  • Show your child what she can control. If possible, help your child manage as much of a situation as possible—without any help from you, a teacher, or friends. This gives the child a sense of personal control.

“My robust 3-year-old daughter kept trying to shove my delicate 5-year-old down the stairs,” says Amy. “I told Shelby, ‘You must take control of this situation. Always allow your sister to go down the stairs first. Otherwise, she could shove you to the bottom, because she doesn’t understand the danger.’”
 
Amy says that Shelby was enormously relieved: “Shelby was proud that she could manage the situation by herself—without having to be a constant tattletale.” 

By Judi Light Hopson
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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